Sirius: Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky

Paperback | February 22, 2007

byJay B. Holberg

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Of all the fixed stars in the night sky, Sirius is by far the brightest - almost twice as bright as its nearest rival, the star Canopus, which lies too far south to be viewed from most of the Northern Hemisphere. Only the Sun, Moon and the planets Venus, Jupiter and, at times, Mars, appear brighter. Sirius, with its flashing brilliance, is a striking feature of the northern winter sky and has understandably drawn the attention of observers of the night sky for thousands of years.Sirius has many names.  Astronomers recognize over fifty designations for the star, but the most commonly used is Alpha Canis Majoris, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major.  This is Latin for the 'Great Dog', which has led to its popular nickname the 'Dog Star'. Over the centuries many beliefs have come to be associated with Sirius. Some of these beliefs still echo in such phrases as 'the dog days of summer', which the ancient Romans understood well. Other old beliefs long ago fell from public consciousness - only to be revived and to grow into modern popular and scientific controversies. Although these beliefs may seem quite recent, many have their origins in the ancient lore surrounding Sirius; humans seem naturally drawn to its brilliance, and a surprising number of modern cults have nucleated around beliefs in which Sirius plays a prominent role.

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From the Publisher

Of all the fixed stars in the night sky, Sirius is by far the brightest - almost twice as bright as its nearest rival, the star Canopus, which lies too far south to be viewed from most of the Northern Hemisphere. Only the Sun, Moon and the planets Venus, Jupiter and, at times, Mars, appear brighter. Sirius, with its flashing brilliance...

The author, Jay Holberg, is well known, both as an historian and as an astrophysicist, and in telling the story of Sirius he is able to integrate the history of the star with modern astrophysics in a way which provides a realistic view of how science progresses over time.

other books by Jay B. Holberg

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:268 pages, 9.53 × 6.69 × 0.27 inPublished:February 22, 2007Publisher:Springer New YorkLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:038748941X

ISBN - 13:9780387489414

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Table of Contents

Goddess of the Eastern Horizon.- The Dog Star.- From Myth to Reality.- A Dark Star Prophesied.- A Dark Star Revealed.- An Odd Pair.- Giants Among the Dwarfs.- A Matter of Degeneracy.- Einstein's Well.- Red Sirius.- Modern Mysteries.- A View from Space.- Past, Present and Future.- Appendices.

Editorial Reviews

From the reviews:"This book is wonderful, being an authoritative and connected history of Sirius as seen throughout the ages. . I am highly impressed by the original new research reported in this book. . I could imagine that this book would be good for constructing an astro-history course around. . But mainly, for people like us, it is a great story with a lot of new information." (HAD News, Vol. 70, May, 2007)"To write a complete book about a single star may sound like a daunting task, but Jay Holberg, a senior research scientist at the lunar and planetary laboratory in Arizona, has done so with success. . The book is meticulously researched . . It's a fascinating read and will appeal equally to the newcomer to astronomy and to the serious student. This is recommended without the slightest hesitation." (Patrick Moore, BBC Sky at Night, July, 2007)"Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, has been of human interest at least since early Egyptian priests watched for its heliacal rising as a sign that the Nile would soon flood and fertilize the fields. . Ample bibliography for further investigation. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty." (M. Dickinson, Choice, Vol. 45 (1), 2007)"Jay Holberg has chosen Sirius as the subject of this charming and well-written book which covers both the lore and the physics of the brighter star in the sky. . I thoroughly recommend this book as an instructive and entertaining read (Holberg is good at the apposite analogy), and as one that discusses the early 20th-century advances in astrophysics, which are often ignored in popular books, but underlie our modern understanding of stars." (William Tobin, Southern Stars, Vol. 46 (2), June, 2007)